WAIT NOW, WHAT? Winegard’s SK-SWM3 Needs Two Power Adapters?

If you’re an RVer then you either have a Winegard SK-SWM3 or you want one. While it doesn’t work while the vehicle’s in motion, it’s the perfect compromise in a lot of ways. It will get you watching DIRECTV easily once you park, with motorized aiming and automatic signal lock. Its single-wire connection works with many prewired systems in RVs and gives you a pretty much painless experience. But, as one of our customers found out the hard way, it actually requires two power adapters.

What’s the deal?

That’s right, the control box requires a power adapter, and the dish itself requires a second one. That’s because the SK-SWM3 has within it a genuine DIRECTV SWM module, largely unaltered from the form you’d see it on your home. It’s built into the LNB just like it is on your roof. And it needs power to function, just like the one on your roof does. So, a garden-variety SWM power inserter is used for it. That’s where our customer went wrong, because he thought one power adapter would be enough. The manual shows an old-style black blower inserter. Those were discontinued some time ago so it’s normal to have a grey power inserter instead.

The control box’s power adapter connects to it, and the DIRECTV power inserter connects to the coax going to the dish.

This image from the manual shows how you wire it all together.

Why couldn’t they do this with one box?

Now, let’s be fair here. I’m sure it’s possible to wire the SK-SWM3 so it gets its power from the control box, and I’m sure at some point it will be done that way, but that would require some engineering to accomplish. The SK-SWM3 is based on an earlier non-SWM design which didn’t need that second power adapter and in order to keep the system super-reliable, the only things that changed were the basic parts required for SWM operation.

If you’re imagining that it would be possible to use a small part to inject that power into the line and that the control box could be designed to add the nominal 21 volts required, you’re on the right track. Of course that takes time and it means the FCC would have to approve a revision of the control box. Unfortunately the FCC isn’t the most… functional… part of the government at the moment. Winegard was smart not to wait for them.

So, if you’re familiar with Winegard products for RVs you know that there is usually a control box which helps aim the dish quickly. Once that box has done its job, the dish functions exactly the same way it does on a home or business. Setup is easy and because it works like a home system you can even have a Genie in your RV if you want. If you’re inclined (and if you have a truly robust data plan) you can even connect the Genie DVR to a Wi-Fi router in your RV and get on-demand programming and interactive features. That’s the benefit of using proven DIRECTV-approved parts. Winegard makes it easy!

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About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.